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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Voice-texting while driving not safe alternative, study shows

 
 

As Texas lawmakers are debate House Bill 63, which would make texting while driving illegal, results from a study at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute reveal the danger of recently developed voice-to-text applications.
The results show that use of voice-to-text applications induces a driver response time equally as that of a driver who manually types text messages.
Voice-to-text applications like Siri and Vlingo, which transcribe spoken words into text message without typing manually, had not been evaluated in terms of effect on driver reaction time and safety until Christine Yager decided to perform her own study.
Yager, associate transportation researcher at TTI and Class of 2007, decided to pursue the research after co-leading a study that looked at the effects of reading and manually typing text messages while driving.
“When another opportunity came up to propose research ideas, I thought it would be interesting to see if voice-to-text mobile applications had any impact on driver safety or behavior,” Yager said.
For the experiment, Yager gathered 43 participants, who drove an instrumented vehicle on a closed course at the Texas A&M University Riverside facility, and measured their reaction time as well as the amount of time spent looking at the roadway ahead.
“Each participant drove the course four times: once while not texting, once while texting manually and two more times using two different voice-to-text mobile applications, Siri and Vlingo,” Yager said.
Regardless of which texting method was used, the voice-to text applications were not found to be any less impairing than manual-entry texting. According to Yager’s abstract, response times and eye gazes to the forward roadway were relatively similar within each texting method.
With a technologically-savvy generation that is constantly connected to its devices, TTI is taking steps to be on the forefront of the research.
Bernie Fette, TTI senior research specialist and Class of 1982, said he thinks it is important to ask questions about how technology may affect driver safety, and that the study’s results are applicable across the board.
“I wouldn’t say that the research findings are more significant to any one group [over another],” Fette said. “Having said that, however, it’s worth noting that car crashes kill and injure more young people nationwide than any other cause.”
Jordan Blair, senior communication major, said drivers should learn to pay attention, considering the amount of accidents caused by distracted driving.
“It’s not just your life you are dealing with on the road,” Blair said. “You have families on the road, you could survive, but what about the person in the other vehicle? You’re putting everyone at risk.”

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